Chinese tourists find hidden camera in power socket of Airbnb room; Sabah police investigating
KOTA KINABALU – Sabah police are looking for those responsible for placing a hidden camera in a wall power socket in an Airbnb room in Kota Kinabalu where a newly-wed Chinese couple had stayed in earlier.
The tourists’ claims were published on Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu on Sept 14. The post went viral after it was picked up by a number of online sites and news portals.
Kota Kinabalu police chief Zaidi Abdullah confirmed that they received a report from the Chinese couple on Sept 7.
He said the police had been monitoring viral news reports on their claims of a hidden camera being placed in the room of a homestay in the Sabah state capital.
A probe was conducted at the premises, he said, adding that police have seized the spy camera.
“Efforts are under way to identity the suspect(s) involved,” Mr Zaidi said on Saturday.
He added that police were investigating the case under suspicion of outrage of modesty.
It was reported that the Chinese couple were shocked to find the camera strategically positioned within a wall socket to face their bed during their stay in the Airbnb room.
They reported the alleged incident on Xiaohongshu, questioning whether it was safe to travel to Malaysia. Their post attracted hundreds of comments from netizens.
“Discovered hidden cameras in the guest house. Is it safe to travel to Malaysia?” wrote the tourist, who used the account name Zhenmei Beauty.
The couple reportedly landed in Kota Kinabalu at 2am on Sept 6, and after arriving at their place of accommodation, were shocked to discover the camera placed within two USB ports in the wall.
The couple said they lodged a report over the matter, but claimed they were advised by the police to remove their posts on their social media account.
Mr Zaidi denied the claim, saying the police did not tell the couple to do so.
Malaysia’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing said stern action will be taken against the perpetrators or the homestay operator.
“Stern and appropriate punishment should be imposed on any party found guilty because this kind of reprehensible act not only violates the laws, but also affects the image of the country’s tourism industry,” Mr Tiong said on Facebook on Sunday.
He added that stern action will be taken against all homestay operators or owners who are registered under the ministry if they are found to have broken the law, including revoking their registration and grading.
Mr Tiong said homestay operators registered under Airbnb are required to pay serious attention to discipline and check the background of their respective employees.
“There is no denying that things such as this may happen due to the personal actions of irresponsible homestay or Airbnb workers. (The ministry) will not compromise on such an incident and will continue to monitor from time to time,” he said.
Airbnb’s general manager for India, South-east Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Amanpreet Bajaj said: “We ban hidden cameras and were disappointed to hear of this reported incident. Our dedicated safety team has also removed the Host’s account and listings pending an investigation.
“While safety incidents are rare on Airbnb, we take reports such as these seriously, and we have been providing support to our guest.”
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said she had contacted the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged incident. - THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK